DHS business preparedness certification program takes shape

Jun 15, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – In its efforts to establish apreparedness certification process for the private sector, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today said it has adopted final standards, which it claims represents a major milestone toward the program's implementation.

The Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep) was recommended by the 9/11 Commission as a way to prepare businesses and nonprofit groups for epidemics, bioterror attacks, and other emergencies.

Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary, said today in a statement that private organizations have a vital role to playing in bolstering the nation's disaster preparedness and response. "These new standards will provide our private sector partners with the tools they need to enhance the readiness and resiliency of our nation," she said.

Once the program is completed and functional, PS-Prep will enable businesses and other groups to receive emergency preparedness certification from an accreditation system that the DHS is creating with the private sector.

The finalized standards the DHS announced today were developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the British Standards Institution, and ASIS International and were published for public comment inthe Federal Register in October 2009. The publication of the adopted standards incorporated feedback from a series of regional public meetings and public comments submitted during the review period.

However, the DHS said it is still accepting comments on PS-Prep and the adopted standards and is accepting proposals to adopt additional standards.

In a presentation on the PS-Prep program in April at the Continuity Insights management conference in New Orleans, William Raisch, executive director of the New York University International Center for Enterprise Preparedness, said the program would be similar to other voluntary certifications, such as quality and environmental management.

He noted that the PS-Prep program is poised to improve supply chain resilience. Customers often lack the resources to review and validate the emergency preparedness of suppliers, and PS-Prep offers a streamlined process that avoids the expense of individual audits. Suppliers will be able to receive a single certification that they can provide to many customers.

Next steps include finalization of an accreditation process and accreditation of certifying bodies, Raisch said. He envisioned that the pilot project will likely lead to introduction of the new program and that the program will be adapted to the special needs of small businesses.

In July 2008 the DHS selected an accreditation board to support the PS-Prep program.

See also:

Jun 15 DHS press release

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